Days after the announcement that model Munroe Bergdorf was a face in L’Oréal Paris UK’s Truly Match campaign, the company has fired the model over a Facebook post she wrote in the wake of white supremacist violence at the Charlottesville protests. Bergdorf was, as she pointed out in one of several Facebook posts about the gig, the first transgender woman to feature in a L’Oréal Paris UK campaign.
Bergdorf’s response to Charlottesville has since been deleted, but The Daily Mail posted alleged text from it. The original Daily Mail post, under the headline “L’Oreal transgender model says all white people are racist,” was published yesterday before Bergdorf’s firing and seems to have been the thing that tipped off the brand to Bergdorf’s Facebook post. The Daily Mail headline now reads: “L’Oreal’s first transgender model is SACKED by the cosmetics giant after claiming ‘ALL white people’ are racist in extraordinary Facebook rant.”
Bergdorf’s words, per the Daily Mail’s reporting were:
Honestly I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people any more. Yes ALL white people.
Because most of ya’ll don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour. Your entire existence is drenched in racism. From micro-aggressions to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this shit.
Come see me when you realise that racism isn’t learned, it’s inherited and consciously or unconsciously passed down through privilege.
Once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth… then we can talk.
Until then stay acting shocked about how the world continues to stay fucked at the hands of your ancestors and your heads that remain buried in the sand with hands over your ears.
The cosmetics company announced they were firing Bergdorf this morning:
Additionally, L’Oréal has deleted Bergdorf’s video about her experience as a trans woman she filmed for the Truly Match campaign from its YouTube channel. It was on the model’s Facebook but has since been deleted.
Bergdorf has since responded on social media to her ousting:
She urged a boycott of the company, saying that she was misquoted and also her words were taken out of context. She called out the company for firing her for speaking out about the origins of racism.
In a much longer, exacting response to the Daily Mail’s original post, Bergdorf contextualized her original statement, admitting to writing “all white people are racist,” but explaining that she did so to address “that western society as a whole, is a SYSTEM rooted in white supremacy - designed to benefit, prioritise and protect white people before anyone of any other race.”
You should read all of the post embedded above because it’s fire point after fire point. This part gets to the root of how the company’s mission makes the firing of Bergdorf such a betrayal:
The irony of all this is that L’Oréal Paris invited me to be part of a beauty campaign that ‘stands for diversity’. The fact that up until very recently, there has been next to no mainstream brands offering makeup for black women and ethnic minorities, is in itself due to racism within the industry. Most big brands did not want to sell to black women. Most big brands did not want to acknowledge that there was a HUGE demographic that was being ignored. Because they did not believe that there was MONEY to be made in selling beauty products to ethnic minorities.
If L’Oreal truly wants to offer empowerment to underrepresented women, then they need to acknowledge THE REASON why these women are underrepresented within the industry in the first place. This reason is discrimination - an action which punches down from a place of social privilege. We need to talk about why women of colour were and still are discriminated against within the industry, not just see them as a source of revenue.
We have reached out to both L’Oréal and Bergdorf for additional comment, and will update this post if and when we hear back.